Three people were killed and dozens wounded in the southern Iraqi city of Kut on Wednesday in clashes between security forces and protesters demanding better basic services, police and hospital sources said.
Protesters calling for the removal of corrupt officials and an improvement in basic services threw bricks and stones at Iraqi security forces and took over the city's provincial and government buildings, the sources said.
"The toll from the violent actions of the demonstrations is three protesters killed and about 30 wounded, including 15 policemen from the facilities protection service," a police source in Kut said.
Iraqis have long protested against poor services, although recent rallies elsewhere in the Arab region appear to have renewed their desire to voice their frustrations to the elected government that took office less than two months ago.
Around 2,000 people protested in Kut on Wednesday. Some shouted "down, down Maliki", voicing anger at Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who secured a second term in office last November.
"Angry protesters set fire at the reception and first floor of the provincial building and they are preventing firefighters from putting out the fire," Lieutenant Colonel Aziz al-Amarah, head of the rapid response police force in the province of Wasit, told Reuters.
"We have evacuated all government and provincial office employees to protect them and save their lives."
Iraq is still struggling to get back on its feet almost eight years after the U.S.-led invasion. Infrastructure is dilapidated and there is a chronic electricity shortage. Jobs are scarce.
ReutersLast Mod: 16 Şubat 2011, 15:52